Yan Shi Fan (艳势番) is the novel-to-drama adaptation of a novel written by Han Lu. The story takes place at the end of the Qing Dynasty and beginning of the Republic of China, following a bunch of youths in a time of turbulence, power struggles, and nation’s pride. Huang Zi Tao and Jackson Yi play dual lead roles; Huang Zi Tao plays Chong Li Ming, a leader to one of Eight Banners aka elite forces of the Qing military. But his other identity is leader to a special royal organization (assassination group), Yan Shi Fan, which protects the nation. Despite A Yi (Jackson Yi)’s humbling background, he encourages the boy to join. A Yi is described as beautiful, quiet, and cruel, with potentials to become a killing machine. A profound friendship develops among the men (yes there are a group of pretty boys!) as they go through difficulties and challenges, realizing their ideals and desire to protect their homeland, and joining the revolution.
The other boys include Yu Meng Long, and Wang Rui Chang. It’s a male-centric drama so Hu Bing Qing‘s screen time is limited.